I already examined the government's response to its data reform proposals to cut burdens on businesses. I concluded that it was tinkering around the edges.

It has other proposals to "reduce barriers to responsible innovation". Following the responses received it has diluted these too. So, more tinkering then.

  • Legitimate interest. This was to be the big change. The government proposed a broad list of  activities that will amount to a legitimate interest. Instead, after feedback, it will now add a limited number of activities. These will include to prevent crime, report safeguarding concerns or are necessary for other important reasons of public interest. It will add the power to update the list of activities but such updates will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
  • Research. Respondents expressed concerns over the government’s proposed sweeping changes to processing personal data for research. Instead the government proposes to introduce greater clarity over what amounts to research.
  • Further processing: the government will simplify the situations where data can be re-used.
  • AI and machine learning. As technology progresses, processing by AI will increase. The government wants to ensure AI processing is done fairly.
  • Data minimisation and anonymisation. The government proposes to clarify the test for “identifiability” of an individual. This will help determine whether the data has been truly anonymised. It also wants further improvements in privacy-enhancing technologies.
  • Innovative data sharing solutions. The government wants to allow greater sharing of personal data to “help drive growth and boost innovation”. In particular, it wants to encourage the use of data intermediaries. This is a tricky balancing act to achieve and the government seems to have narrowed its focus to enabling “Smart Data” schemes.

We await the timing of these changes. While these minor changes will have some benefits for businesses, this is not the wholesale reform the government promised. 

If you need advice, contact me f.jennings@teacherstern.com or +44 (0) 20 7611 2338.